James’ Top 10 Horror Comics of 2014

 

Written by James Ferguson

 

 

2014 has been a crazy year with some terrific and horrible things. One thing is for sure: It's a great time to be a comic book fan. Comics are dominating the box office, taking over TV, and are popping up just about everywhere. I've probably read and reviewed more funny books this year than ever before. Now I'm trying to put together a top ten list, and it's probably the hardest one yet because there are so many great comics to choose from.

 

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's make a few things clear. First off, this is a list of the top ten horror comics of the year. Batman may be totally awesome and everyone loves Saga, but they're not horror so they're not on the list. Also, even though I read a ridiculous amount of comics, I haven't read everything. If your favorite spooky comic didn't make the list, I might have missed it. Let me know in the comments below so I can be sure to check it out. Now, let's get this show on the road.

 

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10. The Squidder (44FLOOD)


I've admired Ben Templesmith's work since I got back into comics about ten years ago and started reading Fell. He has a unique style that is all his own. When you pick up one of his books, you instantly know it's his work. You can imagine my excitement when he launched a Kickstarter with 44FLOOD to release an original graphic novel. It's a post-apocalyptic story where humanity has been knocked from the top of the food chain by a race of sentient alien squids. A washed-up, genetically enhanced soldier is pulled out of retirement for one last job that takes him right into the tentacles of the new overlords in a massive, action-packed battle worthy of a Michael Bay movie.

Plus, the presentation is gorgeous. This is a high quality book and there's an even bigger and better edition available directly from Templesmith.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of The Squidder.

 

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9. Void (Titan Comics)


This was a book that was definitely off my radar. In hindsight, that is ridiculous because Void was illustrated by Sean Phillips and I should be reading anything he draws. Written by Herik Hanna, the book follows a man on the prison ship Goliath 01. He seems to be the sole survivor of a brutal massacre but you quickly learn that he's not the most reliable narrator. He's floating out there in space and he might be a little crazy. I mean, he does see a circus and I'm pretty sure those aren't standard issue on prison spaceships.

 

Phillips really shines here, showing many smaller panels to zoom in on specific details that you might not notice in a regular reading. It provides a very eerie feeling throughout the whole book. It's atmospheric horror and it will stay with you long after you finish it.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Void.

 

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8. The Woods (BOOM! Studios)


This is the first (and definitely not the last) appearance of a BOOM! Studios comic on this list. Seriously, that publisher has been absolutely killing it this year. High school is bad enough as is with all the hormones and awkwardness of being a teenager, but what if your entire student body was transported to an alien world? That's the top line concept behind The Woods, but it is so much more. Writer James Tynion IV does a brilliant job bringing these characters to life. They feel real, like you've grown up with them. It comes off like a Joss Whedon kind of character development. Each issue has gone into some background for one of the students that completely reframes their actions in the present. At the end of each chapter, you want to go back and re-read each previous one to look at those characters in a new light. It's really a perfect comic for just about anyone as it's such a human story.

 

This would have been pretty great on its own, but coupled with the alien world, it's like the scariest possible version of adventure movies like Neverending Story. These kids are practically helpless as they watch their friends get brutally murdered and/or eaten by terrifying creatures unlike anything we've seen on Earth.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of The Woods #4.

 

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7. Curse (BOOM! Studios)


On the surface, Curse is a werewolf comic, but that description is selling it so short. Made by a superstar team of writers Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel and artists Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer, the book follows a man named Griffin who is at the end of his rope. He's out of work and willing to do anything to save his young son who is currently battling cancer. That includes going out to the woods hunting a beast that's been leaving a trail of bodies in the nearby forest. If he can get the reward money, it might just be enough to get by. Of course, you know it's not that easy.

 

What follows is a heart-wrenching character study as Griffin does whatever it takes in an effort to save his son. This book might not have affected me as much if it came out a few years ago, but now that I've got a kid, I can understand the lengths that Griffin is going through. I'd battle a werewolf for my son if need be. Curse uses that to make this a very emotional horror story without being sappy. It just hits you right in the gut and then scares the crap out of you with some stunning visuals from Rossmo and Lorimer.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Curse #1.

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Curse #4.

 

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6. Five Ghosts (Image Comics)


Sometimes I'll miss an issue of a book, so I'll go months without reading it until I finally pick up that missing chapter. I'm still behind on B.P.R.D., much to my dismay. This happened to me with Five Ghosts, so I read through about a dozen issues over a weekend like I was binge watching House of Cards on Netflix. This book follows Fabian Gray, an adventurer possessed by five literary ghosts (Dracula, Merlin, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, and a Samurai, although they're never called by their "real" names). He's able to call on the abilities of these spirits as needed, but it's a constant struggle as his head is a little crowded. Fabian is searching for a way to revive his sister, who fell into a coma as a result of the same ritual that gave Fabian these spiritual house guests.

 

Five Ghosts is a fun pulp adventure comic that never lets up. It's a story that has near endless possibilities as Fabian encounters others with similar literary ghosts, such as Sinbad or Blackbeard, in a very menacing fashion. These aren't retellings of classic pieces of literature. Writer Frank J. Barbiere weaves these aspects into the comic organically while keeping the excitement and terror high, especially with the latest story arc.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Five Ghosts #14.

 

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5.Hexed (BOOM! Studios)


Who doesn't love a good heist movie? Hexed is like a monthly heist movie starring a strong female thief named Lucifer, who only steals supernatural artifacts. She has the sheer willpower of Buffy mixed with the tough-as-nails, take-no-shit attitude of Faith. This was brought back as an ongoing title after a mini-series in 2010, and I hope it continues on, as every issue just keeps getting better.

 

The supernatural element of Hexed is unlike anything I've seen before. Creator / writer Michael Alan Nelson doesn't waste time with tried and true topics like vampires and werewolves. There are all different characters and artifacts at work here that come across far scarier and more powerful than any of those creatures.

 

Adding to the tapestry of Hexed is the fact that Lucifer is marked. She's destined to replace a strange being known as the Harlot, who is the Keeper of Secrets. Artist Dan Mora design for her is terrifying. Her long misshapen limbs and rictus grin can and will haunt your nightmares.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Hexed #1.

 

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4. Afterlife with Archie (Archie Comics)


Unlike most American kids, I never read Archie comics growing up. I don't know why, but I never picked up anything with those lovable scamps from Riverdale. Then Afterlife with Archie happened and I feel like I need a letterman's jacket. This could have been a parody comic with horror elements thrown in with known characters for laughs, sort of like Marvel Zombies. Instead, this is a serious horror comic that happens to star Archie, Jughead, and the rest of the gang. Even though I don't have that connection to the characters that most people seem to have, I still felt instantly involved in their lives on an emotional level. That speaks to the talents of writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the stunning artwork from Francesco Francavilla.

 

Every single issue packs that emotional punch, like you're witnessing a close friend or family member go through these absolutely horrible experiences. Chapter #4 is especially heartbreaking, dealing with Archie's dog Vegas. Any pet owner will be moved to tears by this issue specifically and that's not something you can say about a lot of comics.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Afterlife with Archie: Book One.

 

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3. Monster Motors (IDW Publishing)

If you want to talk about fun comics, then look no further than Monster Motors. This is everything I want from a Saturday morning cartoon, mixed with a bit of horror, and crammed into a one-shot that is simply not long enough. Fortunately, IDW Publishing recently announced a two-issue follow up that I cannot wait for.

 

The comic stars a young Vic Frankenstein who moves into the town of Transylvania, Kentucky, to open up an auto shop with his assistant iGor. Unfortunately, the area is plagued by the fierce vehicle Cadillacula (which is exactly what you think it is). Now Vic needs to fight off the vampire car with his own Frankenride to save the area's automobiles. The book is filled with some great puns that are never groan-worthy and some dynamite art by Nick Roche. It's an all-ages comic, so it's great for kids and adults alike. It's just damn fun.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Monster Motors.

 

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2. Colder: The Bad Seed (Dark Horse Comics)


I didn't put together a top ten list last year, but if I had, Colder would have been #1. It explored insanity in a way that I've never seen before or since. It just made sense. Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra have returned to this world for a sequel and somehow it's even more terrifying than the original. Nimble Jack was a horrifying villain, but this time around there's Swivel. He may look like your average old man with his dark suit and hat, but then you get a better look at him and realize that he's not from this world. His long fingers grow and twist at will. They end with pointed, claw-like nails. Then there are his teeth. They're made of fingers.

 

Tobin's story is fantastic but what really amplifies Colder: The Bad Seed is Ferreyra's artwork. He's upped his game with this book. He's capable of sending a shiver down your spine with every page. Swivel is a being that is practically made of nightmares. This is what pure insanity looks like. This is horror at its best.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Colder: The Bad Seed #1.

 

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1. Nailbiter (Image Comics)


Here we are. Top of the list (or bottom? It appears at the end of the article). Nailbiter is set in the fictional town of Buckaroo, Oregon, the birthplace of sixteen of the world's worst serial killers. An FBI agent becomes obsessed with the town, looking for a reason behind these bad apples...then he disappears. That's before page one of this series that is expertly written by Joshua Williamson, with some dynamite artwork from Mike Henderson. Army Intelligence Officer Nicholas Finch heads into town to search for his friend and gets pulled down the rabbit hole of the Buckaroo Butchers.

 

This would be an amazing story to read on its own, but what really steals the show is Edward Charles Warren, the latest local serial killer and the inspiration for the book's title. He's like a modern day Hannibal Lector and just as creepy. You get this uneasy feeling every single time he shows up on the page. He's just not right, but he's also often the smartest person in the room and he knows it. He uses his reputation to his advantage, unsettling just about everyone he talks to.

 

Nailbiter is like reading a new version of Silence of the Lambs every single month. The mystery grows and expands with each issue, pulling you deeper and deeper into this web. It gets its hooks into you with some of the best cliffhangers you'll see in modern day comics. This is a comic that every horror fan should be reading.

 

Read the HorrorTalk Review of Nailbiter: Volume One.

 

Honorable mentions for the top horror comics of 2014 include:

 

 

 



 

 

 

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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